Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera: Carnival Pride Cruise Review by docjoseph

Carnival Pride 3

Overall Member Rating

Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera

Sail Date: February 2006
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Carnival Pride docked this morning in Long Beach after my seven-day trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. First, the positives: Stunning, new (2002) ship with marble nearly everywhere and Renaissance painting copies throughout. Stateroom: Ample size, sparkling clean with large, tiled bathroom. By appearances, all suggested a high-quality weeks voyage.

Now, the cruel realities: Oddly the longer-hours buffet on Deck 9 tended towards more consistently high-quality food. Steam tabled foods normally run a poor second to the quality of more freshly prepared meals. Pride runs contrary to normal expectations.

The menu in Normandie dining room somewhat disappointed me in its variety, balance, and cohesiveness of thought--quirky, disorganized, inscrutable, even a little bizarre. In attempting to be edgy, cooks sometimes seem to forget that everyone likes an unfussy steak or filet of fish at least half the time. You wont find that basic or down to More earth philosophy of foods on Carnival Pride. For me, fancy sounds fine after one establishes with a sound command of basic foods. That never happened this past week. The hip menu fleshed out even less well than it looked on paper: Food serving temperatures varied unevenly between lukewarm and flatly cold. Aggravating this state of affairs, the food runners brought out up to twenty plates at one time to centralized serving stands and over the next ten to twenty minutes and then inexplicably, while the harried waiters attempted to distribute the entree plates, whatever possibly once came out from the kitchen hot soon dropped in temperature 10-30 degrees while setting out in the room air. This calls to mind the concept, Dennys at Sea. Even Dennys usually manages to serve mediocre food hot, in most cases.

Carnival bills itself as the fun ship. Id call it merely noisy. Reminiscent of the Radar OReilly character in Mash (the movie and TV series), cruise director Greg (alternating with multiple annoying purser staff) too frequently pierced the seldom solitude with endless inane announcements. My favorite-the loud, blabby invitation to a not so newlywed game wherein mates insult their spouses in public, in the main showroom-put me into a bit of a time warp. I flashed back momentarily to my forced attendance at uncool summer camps where goofy adults suggested senseless, useless activities for children who didnt know what else to do with themselves. Silence and reading a book come to mind as alternatives. As I am NOT a child and can easily think of plenty wonderful things to do at any given moment, I resented this appalling lack of quiet--over the top intrusive manhandling of adults, and the insulting underlying message that adults have to march somewhere all the time day and night, rather than simply relax. Its a vacation, not boot camp! I actually came to feel Marine boot camp might be quieter.

Toward the end of the week, after I made multiple, detailed complaints to Management of the ship, the Maitre d Stuart finally reassigned me to a new table in the Normandie dining room. There the new waiter always checked to see if the food tasted okay and if I felt satisfied. As I made it clear that I always expect my food served hot, this waiter saw to it that took place. I said in my evaluation this ship ought to promote my waiter to a training role. The food HAD potential but poor serving techniques ruined good effort by the cooking staff.

Finally, Davids: This is the $30 surcharge dinner house way up on the top deck. After one walks the glass stairway to get there, maybe the $30 might provide an oxygen mask?

Worth the $30 in one sense--superb food served meticulously well (I had an excellent veal chop and side dishes)--still it raises the question, When I just dropped several hundred bucks on the cruise fare, why should I have to pay an extra $30 to get the service I get back home on shore at any fine restaurant?

I believe Carnival needs a major system upgrade of its foods staff training program. Two prior Royal Caribbean cruises afforded me much better dining and food service experiences. I found this trip disappointing to the extent I would not travel again with Carnival and I would surely never recommend this cruise line to others. Less

Published 03/22/06

Cabin review: 4202

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